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COVID-19 in Maryland Government & Politics

Hogan: Federal Relief Bill Was Bloated and Not Bipartisan

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) in an interview with Politico Thursday. Screenshot.

Echoing complaints made by Republicans in Congress, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said on Thursday that he “probably” would have voted against the $1.9 trillion American Relief Act.

He said the failure of President Biden to attract GOP support for the measure undercut his campaign pledge to govern in a bipartisan manner and risked “setting a really bad precedent for the rest of his term.”

A two-term Republican governor in a blue state, Hogan said he has something to offer the GOP, a party that will suffer if it remains “the cult of Donald Trump.” He also hinted that the party may have moved to a place that he can no longer tolerate.

He made his comments during a half-hour online interview with Politico.

Discussing the economic stimulus bill, which Biden signed on Thursday, Hogan said the bill was twice as large as it should have been.

“It was really loaded up like a Christmas tree with all kinds of extra goodies,” he charged.

Despite its size, the governor said the bill would be a huge benefit to states and localities across the country.

“I was all for relief. I’m glad they passed some relief. There are some very important things in there that are going to help our state and the citizens of the state,” he said.

According to Maryland’s U.S. Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and Chris Van Hollen (D), local governments and the state will receive $6.4 billion in aid. Residents will receive an additional $6.3 billion in direct payments, they said.

Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) was the only member of the state’s congressional delegation to oppose the bill, which enjoyed strong public support according to a number of polls.

Hogan said Trump’s grip on the Republican Party is a threat to its future prospects, but he acknowledged that the former president is likely to remain a force.

He pledged to continue to speak out on behalf of a more “big tent” strategy.

“I don’t know what my future is going to be,” said Hogan. “I don’t know if I have a future in the Republican Party — but I care about a future for the Republican Party.”

The governor is term-limited and will leave office in early 2023, and he has become a regular on the national talk-show circuit.

Asked if he intends to run for the White House in 2024, Hogan said the next election is too far off for such decisions.

“I’m not going to go away. I’m going to continue to speak out, even if it seems like there aren’t very many people speaking out with me,” he said. “So I’m going to stay involved and keep saying what I think.”

The interview included many signature Hogan flourishes — mostly around his visits to the White House.

While referencing a visit in 2020 — when he was head of the National Governors Association — Hogan noted that he “was in the Situation Room multiple times sitting next to the vice president, with all the other governors on the [COVID-19 response] calls.”

“Two weeks ago I was in the Oval Office with both the president and the vice president, for an hour and a half,” he said of a more recent visit.

And to underscore the intensity of his pitch to Biden to be bipartisan, Hogan said he pressed the president “at least five times in that White House meeting.”

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Hogan: Federal Relief Bill Was Bloated and Not Bipartisan